For those willing to brave the winter winds and record temperature drops of New York in January, Robert Williams‘ exhibit of paintings and sculpture, Conceptual Realism, runs until the third week of the month. For the rest of us, the James Kalm Report of artist Loren Munk provides a great taste of this show on YouTube. Next month, Williams, founder of Juxtapoz magazine, will exhibit more of his work at the Whitney Biennial.
At roughly the same time that Williams’ show opened in November 2009, fashionista favorite W came out with its art issue. They devoted a two-page spread to Williams’ former colleague, artist R. Crumb, featuring his illustrations, specially created for the magazine, amongst splashes on the latest from Miu Miu and Jil Sander. The accessibility now accorded to both Williams and Crumb offer positive proof that an art movement that had collectively been dismissed with the label Low Brow has been elevated to the status of the mainstream.
Here in Manila, while we have been slow on the uptake, purveyors of this crass, perhaps even gross, representations of the excrement of life, rendered in the manner of comic-book drawings, have had their own successes. We have seen this especially in the last half-decade. Late last year, Robert Langenegger had his Paris come out. Louie Cordero, who has shown in New York, contiues to make waves with his current Hong Kong exhibit at Osage, the gallery that represents him in the former Crown Colony. And now, enter Dex Fernandez with -+*.
In this first solo exhibit, mounted at Pablo in Taguig, Dex uses photos of his friends and family as the base of his fascinating mixed media pieces. He prints the photos on archival paper and adds textures and layers to striking fruition. Dex piles on images in acrylic, ink, or embroidery, and also cuts patterns through the paper. His pieces resemble the pages of a much-doodled, R-rated scrapbook. Dont’ expect to see them on the walls of the squeamish.
Dex lets loose on what he calls ” the little monsters we’ve been keeping inside ourselves” bringing to the fore some of the good, most of the bad, and a whopping amount of the ugly and vulgar. These manipulations serve as frank commentaries on either his subjects’ characteristics (he labels his father an impotent machine and gently mocks his mother’s need for false teeth), their emotional states (two women falling, reflecting on wasted youth), or their political and religious views (a fool giving Catholic icons the finger).
Congratulations to Dex for this awesome debut! With his fifteen compelling pieces, he proves that definitely, even here in Manila, Low Brow has risen to high art.
-+* Dex Fernandez First Solo Exhibit runs from 20 January to 24 February 2010 at PABLO Fort, Unit C-11 South of Market Condominium, Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Phone (632) 986-3887 or visit http://www.pablogalleries.com